We have all heard countless stories and examples of brilliant artists who created some of their best work while they were down in the dumps – Vincent Van Gogh, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Eminem. But is this a coincidence, or is there some creative advantage to being in a bad mood?

A Harvard University study set out to find answers.

Researchers predicted that negative affect from social rejection strongly correlated with high artistic creativity. Further, those with lower levels of DHEAS (the adrenal steroid associated with depression) might have a more profound and negative response to social rejection, thus ultimately experiencing a more intense boost in artistic creativity as a response to these negative feelings. It was concluded that there is indeed a strong correlation and that those with lower levels of DHEAS may have a more intense response. In other words, when you are feeling down, you just might have superhuman creative strength.

So, what can we take from this and how can it help us in our daily lives?

It’s as simple as this: use times when you are feeling down to your advantage. Ride the waves! If you had a bad day (especially if it was due to a negative social interaction), work on something creative that you enjoy. Did you have a bad interaction with your boss? Work on something creative and see if you impress yourself! A common response to having a rough day at work may be to unwind by watching television or a movie, reading a book, or going for a run. Try doing something creative instead.

If you love reading or writing, write a short story or a poem. Fan of photography? Grab your smartphone and create a photo essay. Get reactive.

If you don’t have any creative hobbies, try adding one to your life. Learn how to play an instrument or how to draw. There are plenty of online resources to help you learn. Adding a creative hobby to your life may very well make you a happy more often.

Another study suggests that unstructured creative time for adults (like recess for kids) has tremendous relaxation and mood-improving benefits. Use your enhanced creativity to boost yourself back into a positive mood. The better you get to know yourself and your moods, the more effective you will be at staying positive and getting things done. Understand how your mind works and tackle the to-do list item that best suits your current mood.

Use a creative release to stay positive!

Originally published on Inc.com

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